Differential diagnostic significance of epithelial and stromal CD10 expression in tumors of trichogenic origin

J Dtsch Dermatol Ges. 2018 Jun;16(6):719-728. doi: 10.1111/ddg.13547.


Background and objectives: The histological differential diagnosis between benign trichogenic skin tumors and basal cell carcinoma may be challenging. We therefore set out to investigate whether expression of CD10, a cell surface protein with neutral endopeptidase activity, might be a suitable marker for the histological differential diagnosis of trichogenic skin tumors.

Patients and methods: We immunohistochemically analyzed 119 cases of benign trichogenic skin tumors and basal cell carcinoma. These included 28 nodular and 15 sclerosing basal cell carcinomas, 21 Pinkus tumors, 20 trichoblastomas, nine trichofolliculomas, eleven trichoepitheliomas, five desmoplastic trichoepitheliomas, and ten seborrheic keratoses.

Results: The majority of nodular basal cell carcinomas expressed CD10 in tumor cells at the peripheral (22/28 [75 %]). On the other hand, trichoblastomas revealed peripheral CD10 expression in only 10 % (2/20) of cases, whereas 50 % showed central expression (10/20). Peripheral epithelial expression of CD10 was also found in Pinkus tumors (9/21 [42.9 %]) and trichoepithelioma (4/11 [36.4 %]). Desmoplastic trichoepithelioma showed no tumoral CD10 expression at all (0/5 [0 %]), while the majority of sclerosing basal cell carcinomas was positive for CD10 (13/15 [86.7 %]).

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that epithelial expression of CD10 - and not peritumoral stromal CD10 expression, as has been postulated - may well be of differential diagnostic significance. The pattern of distribution of CD10-positive neoplastic cells in particular can be useful in the diagnosis of trichogenic tumors.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell* / diagnosis
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Follicular Cyst* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Keratosis, Seborrheic* / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms, Basal Cell* / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms* / diagnosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor

Supplementary concepts

  • Trichofolliculoma